Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.
1858 - 1900


The first Association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association, was formed in New York City.


The first boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York, N.Y.


"YWCA" was first used in Boston, Mass.


The YWCA opens the first employment bureau in New York City.


The YWCA opens a low-cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia, Pa.


The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio.


The first YWCA for Native American women opened in at Haworth Institute in Chilocco, Okla.


The United States of America, England, Sweden, and Norway together created the World YWCA, which today is working in over 125 countries.

1901 - 1950


The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming.


YWCA of the USA incorporated in New York City.


The YWCA was the first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self-government.


The YWCA held the first interracial conference in Louisville, Ky.


The YWCA was the first organization to send professional workers overseas to provide administrative leadership and support to U.S. Armed Forces.


Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize”.


Grace Dodge Hotel completed construction of a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers


The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African Americans' basic civil rights.


The YWCA in Columbus, Ohio, establishes a desegregated dining facility and is cited by The Columbus Urban League "for a courageous step forward in human relations."


The YWCA extends its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers.


The National Board appears at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee legislation.


Interracial Charter adopted by the 17th National Convention.


The National Convention pledges that the YWCA will work for integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of American life.

1951 - 2000


National Convention commits local Associations and the National Board to review progress towards inclusiveness and decides on "concrete steps" to be taken.


The Atlanta, Ga., YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility.


The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts.


The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative: "To trust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary".


The YWCA started the ENCORE program for women who had undergone breast cancer surgery.


YWCA establishes Fund For The Future.


The YWCA National Board urges Congress to support legislation that opposes the South African policy of apartheid.


The YWCA National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism began in response to the beating of Rodney King, an African American man, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of the crime, and the subsequent riots and unrest across the country.


The YWCA Week Without Violence was created as a nationwide effort to unite people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held in the third week of October.

2001 - present


Steps to Absolute Change was adopted. The YWCA shifted from a top-down to a bottom-up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their regional representatives to the National Coordinating Board.


Igniting the Collective Power of the YWCA to Eliminate Racism, the YWCA USA's Summit on Eliminating Racism was held in Birmingham, Ala.


The YWCA celebrates its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.


Today over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States. Globally, the YWCA reaches 25 million women and girls in 125 countries.


At the YWCA Annual Meeting in May 2012, a transition from the prior regional structure to a national federated structure was approved, followed by the adoption of new bylaws in November 2012.


YWCA USA transitioned from an internal national coordinating board to a new board of directors driven by women of influence as well as YWCA leaders.


YWCA USA developed a Mission Impact Framework and Theory of Change to focus and clarify our diverse body of work in racial justice and civil rights, women's and girls’ health and safety, and women's and girls’ empowerment and economic advancement.

Stand Against Racism became a signature campaign of YWCA USA, reaching over 700 locations across the country.

The corporate name changed from “Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America, Inc.” to “YWCA USA, Inc.”, effective December 15, 2015.


YWCA launched the YWCA Is On A Mission brand awareness campaign to deepen YWCA’s impact in local communities and on the national scale.